Interview with Wayne Zurl, author of 'Heroes & Lovers'

Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.
Fourteen (14) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. His first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards and First Runner-up from all commercial fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards. A second novel, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT, is available in print and eBook.

His latest book in the Sam Jenkins mystery series is Heroes & Lovers.

For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and even see photos of the area where the stories take place.

Visit Wayne on Twitter at

“Like” his Facebook page:

Pick up your paperback copy of Heroes & Lovers at Amazon:

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

HEROES & LOVERS is the 3rd full-length Sam Jenkins mystery I’ve had published. Like the other two and the fifteen novelettes out there, this is a composite of several real incidents I investigated as a cop in New York. I fictionalize everything and transplant the stories to Tennessee where my protagonist, an ex-NY detective has taken a job as police chief in the imaginary town of Prospect. The dust jacket summary explains the story pretty well.

Sam Jenkins might say, “Falling in love is like catching a cold.  It’s infectious and involuntary. Just don’t sneeze on any innocent people.” 

Getting kidnapped and becoming infatuated with a married policeman never made Knoxville TV reporter Rachel Williamson’s list of things to do before Christmas. 

Helping her friend, Sam Jenkins, the ex-New York detective and now police chief in Prospect, Tennessee, with a fraud investigation sounded exciting and would get her an exclusive story. 

But Sam’s investigation put Rachel in the wrong place at the wrong time and her abduction by a mentally disturbed fan, ruined several days of her life.

When Jenkins learns Rachel has gone missing he mobilizes all personnel at Prospect PD and enlists his friends from the FBI to help find her.

During the early stages of the investigation, Sam develops several promising leads, but as they begin to fizzle, his prime suspect drops off the planet and all the resources of the FBI aren’t helping.

After a lucky break and a little old-fashioned pressure on an informant produce an important clue, the chief leads his team deep into the Smoky Mountains to rescue his friend.  But after Rachel is once again safe at home, he finds their problems are far from over.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Logistically, this was a breeze compared to A NEW PROSPECT, the first novel I wrote. A publisher actually found me and we came to terms on book number two, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT. HEROES & LOVERS came after that.
I had been posting chapters from a novelette on an on-line writer’s workshop which the publisher was monitoring. He liked what he read and contacted me. Our first venture was two anthologies of five novelettes each. From that we opened a dialogue and LEPRECHAUN went under contract.
I felt like Troy Donahue or any of the old-time actors who were discovered working as a soda jerk in a Hollywood drugstore.
To anyone wanting to publish a book they believe in, I’d say, “Never give up.” There are many ways to skin your cat.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I’m currently with Iconic Publishing, LLC. Answer number two explains how I met Jano Donnachaidh, the publisher. I’m also working with Mind Wings Audio who produces my novelettes (8,000 to 11,000 words each) as audio books and simultaneously publishes them as eBooks. They’ve just bought the fifteenth story.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

The whole publishing business surprises me. Prior to my venture in writing fiction, I thought it might be based on subjective reasoning and common sense. That thought went way off the mark.

At least those few people who have the courtesy of providing writers with an answer to their queries or book proposals are honest enough to say it’s a totally subjective business and is based solely on the potential of how much money your book might make. Good work doesn’t seem to have much to do with the “Big 6” publishing industry.

A veteran writer once told me, “You don’t have to be good, you have to be marketable.” That was a shock. I always thought good work was the way to make it in any business.

When I made my initial round of agent queries, one individual told me I wrote well, but my sixty-year-old retired NY cop now working in Tennessee wasn’t trendy. He suggested taking my stories and changing the hero to a young vampire private-eye from Orange County. Hmmm.

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

Prior to venturing into fiction, I had twenty-six magazine articles published so, I knew the kick generated by getting paid for something I wrote. But non-fiction seemed like a walk in the park compared to my first novel. I started peddling A NEW PROSPECT to agents. When I logged in over a hundred rejections, I decided to try any publisher who would accept submissions directly from an author. I jumped on the first reasonable contract someone offered. When I received my free author’s copy, I felt elated. It had taken me from the summer of 2006 when I began writing to January 2011 before I saw the actual book. It was a good feeling.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m currently working on revisions for a novel I call PIGEON RIVER BLUES and should be able to submit it to my publisher in a couple of months. It’s Sam Jenkins’ first foray into the world of country & western music. He’s asked to organize a security detail for a big star who’s gotten threatening letters from a right-wing extremist group. With luck it will come out in 2013.
I’m also writing another novelette for Mind Wings. And they have a few unpublished novelettes under contract on the coming soon list. I just received the cover art for the next one, HURRICANE BLOW-UP, which will now go to recording. In it, people are evacuated from the Carolina coast during Hurricane Irene and end up in Prospect, Tennessee. One is a retired NY detective whose car is blown up outside a Prospect motel. The suspects are: A- The Russian mob  B- The irate ex-husband of his current live-in girlfriend  C- All of the above  D- None of the above.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

I don’t write literary fiction. These are police procedurals just this side of old-fashioned hardboiled cop stories. Most people say they’re entertaining and that’s good. I pay close attention to the cadence of my writing when I read everything back to myself so, I would also hope people think they sound good. If you listened to any of the audio books, which are read by professional actors, I think you’d compare them to an old-fashioned radio drama. Forget reality TV and game shows. The world would be a better place with more quality one hour dramas. Toss in a few award winning novels which incorporate authentic police work and lots of cop humor and you may come away with a smile on your face. If nothing else, I try to make the world temporarily a good place.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

If there was one central message in any or all my books, it’s that Sam Jenkins is his own man. He’s honest and unaffected by peer pressure. He can’t be bought. Politicians can’t influence him and he’d rather do the right thing and lose the job he reluctantly took than compromise his ethics. I think more people should remember the old Army motto, “Death Before Dishonor.” Well, maybe death is a little drastic. How about, “Unemployment Before Dishonor?” He has a couple of pensions to collect even if he gets fired.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

And thank you for inviting me to meet your followers and answer a few questions about my books.

Final words? That sounds positively terminal. Sure, I’d like to die eating the biggest supreme pizza in the world and wash it down with a half-gallon of good red wine.

1 comment:

  1. Hi to all the staff at THE WRITER'S LIFE,
    Thanks for inviting me to your blog and printing my interview. Wishing you and all your fans and followers the best, WZ


Powered by Blogger.